The Dinagyang Festival is celebrated every fourth weekend of January to honor the Christianization of the natives and to respect the Holy Child Jesus. On this day, the streets of Iloilo City will once again come alive as the Ilonggos celebrate the annual festivity. It is a very colorful parade coupled with a dramatization in honor of the patron Saint Sto. Niño as the object of performs offerings and prayers amidst the cracking of drums and shouts of "Viva Señor Santo Niño." The thundering of "Hala Bira" by the tribe members makes the celebration a lively one. It is also a very popular tagline used by Ilonggos to express their warm participation during the "Dinagyang" celebration. A tribute in honor of Señor Sto. Niño whom Ilonggos believe was very miraculous in times of famine and drought.
Dinagyang is an annual event, when the whole town rejoices, shouting their pride of being an Ilonggo and telling their culture. It is a wonderful looking back to the past. It is not just a celebration, it is a religious evangelization. Going back to Iloilo is more like a past fulfilled and a looking forward for future celebrations. It is our culture. The Aeta culture. That's why it is painting the town black.
Just like most festivals in January, Dinagyang is a thanksgiving for and a celebration in honor of Sr. Santo Nino. But it prides itself as a festival of excellent folk choreography, a showcase of Ilonggo heritage and culture. It is as grand as Iloilo's old churches and mansions. It is as crisp as pinasugbong saging, as delectable as pancit molo and batchoy.
Highlights Of The Festival
The religious highlight is the fluvial procession along Iloilo River. The cultural highlights are the Kasadyahan and the Ati-atihan parades and competitions.
The fluvial procession is on a Friday of the Dinagyang week. Devotees carrying assorted images of the Child Jesus ride in motorized bancas from the mouth of the river towards the pier area where the foot parade would start and then back to the church.
Held on a Saturday, Kasadyahan is a cultural parade. The presentation is theatrical and in local color.
The Ati-atihan contest on a Sunday, is a big event. Participated in by at least twenty groups or tribe, the warriors wipe black soot all over their body and dance to the drumbeats.
Primary reason for starting the Dinagyang Festival. The festival was first started to celebrate the feast of the Sto. Nino. From a parish church festivity to honor the Child Jesus, the celebration has evolved to become a religious-cultural activity. It is now a vehicle to promote Iloilo as a tourist and investment destination.
Dinagyang Song. Dinagyang Song tells of how Iloilo got its name, how it was sold by the aborigines to the Borneans led by a Datu Paiburong. It also describes Ilonggos' proud heritage, industry and peaceful existence. It spells out hope and progress through Dinagyang.
Responses Dinagyang has been getting from audiences and media over the years. The performances have awed audiences because of its spectacle - the choreography, costumes and music are very impressive. Especially, the choreography which has been noted by no less than the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The commission has tagged Dinagyang as the "Festival of Excellent Folk Choreography".
Through the years, the festival has gained national prominence and recognition by winning the national street dancing competition. Now, people know that Dinagyang is Iloilo, and Iloilo is Dinagyang!
Dinagyang festival has brought a lot of innovations throughout the years. These innovations has influenced the way other festivals in the country is run. Among these are the following:
- Carousel Performance - Dinagyang initiated the simultaneous performance of the competing tribes in different judging areas.
- Mobile Risers - Mobile risers is prominent feature of Dinagyang choreography today. It was introduced by Tribu Bola-bola in 1994. The risers has added depth and has improved the choreography of the dance movements.
- Dinagyang Pipes - First used by Tribu Ilonganon in 2005, the Dinagyang pipes is made of PVC pipes and is hammered by rubber paddles. Each pipe produces a distinct sound depending on the length and diameter of each pipe.
- Dagoy - The first festival mascot in the Philippines.
Awards and Citations
- Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2006 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
- Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2007 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
- Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2008 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
- 1st ATOP Hall of Fame Best Tourism Event Awardee, 2009 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
- Best Practices of the City Government, 2009 - Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA)
- Best Executing Strategy, October 2009 - Palladium Asia Pacific Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
- Palladium Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame - Palladium Asia Pacific Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
- Best Practice in the Promotion of the Localization of the Millennium Development Goals , 2007- United Nations Development Programme, CityNet Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal
- Best Practice in Public and Private Cooperation - Asian Development Bank
- Festival with Excellent Folk Choreography, National Commission for the Culture and the Arts
- 2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2003
- Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2004
- 3rd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2005
- 2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2006
- 2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2007
- 2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2008
- 3rd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2009
- Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival 2010
- Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2011
- Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2012
- Resolution No. 120 “Commending Iloilo City for Emerging as the Festival Grand Champion at the 2011 Aliwan Fiesta Street Dancing Competition”. June 1, 2011 - Philippine House of Representatives
- Best Attraction Event of the Homeland to America - Philippine Independence Day Celebration in New York June 5, 2011
- Queen Festival of the Philippines, 2011 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
Dinagyang has not only enhanced its name due its success but through it, many more people devoted to Sr Sto Nino,to have faith,to have courage to face the odds, and on the end,we thank Him for the blessings that he gave to us for the years to come, thats the Dinagyang spirit...One Beat, One Nation..VIVA SR STO NINO!!!!!